Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella was convicted in 2011 for crimes related to a scheme dubbed "Kids for Cash" -- an outrageous miscarriage of justice that has resulted in a film of the same name about the scandal. On Monday, the Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari.
The Kids for Cash Scandal
The Kids for Cash scandal involved Judge Ciavarella, and his colleague former Judge Conahan, in a conspiracy to send hundreds of juveniles to private detention centers, in lieu of county-run centers, in exchange for cash payments exceeding $2.8 million. As a result, Ciavarella was convicted of 12 of 39 counts including conspiracy and racketeering, and is serving a 28-year sentence in federal prison in Illinois, reports The Citizens' Voice.
Ciavarella appealed his conviction and sentence to the Third Circuit, and amidst public frustration, even had his counsel paid for by tax dollars. On appeal, Ciavarella raised several issues challenging the timeliness of the prosecution, impartiality of the trial judge, sufficiency of the evidence, and his 28-year sentence. All of his arguments failed, with one exception, and with all the remaining issues the Third Circuit affirmed the trial court's judgment.
According to The Citizens' Voice, Ciavarella raised three issues on appeal to the Supreme Court: (1) challenging the district judge's impartiality; (2) arguing his prosecution fell outside the statute of limitations; and (3) error in calculating the sentence. Apparently, the Supreme Court found none of these arguments compelling.
What's Next for the Disgraced Judge?
The Supreme Court's denial of certiorari is the last effort in a long appeals process. Now, the only available avenue of redress for Ciavarella is for post-conviction relief, where he will presumably petition for writ of habeas corpus, though there is no official word on what Ciavarella's next steps will be, reports The Citizens' Voice.
- Kids for Cash Judge Appeals to Third Circuit Court of Appeals (FindLaw's U.S. Third Circuit Blog)
- Prosecutors File Response in Kids-for-Cash Case (FindLaw's U.S. Third Circuit Blog)
- Federal Judge Grants TRO, OK's Kids For Organ Transplant (FindLaw's U.S. Third Circuit Blog)